It struck me as I was sitting in my home away from home (our local McDonald’s) and was chatting with a Norwegian friend of mine how incredible it is what’s been going on in my life these past couple of years. My teenage years and my early twenties were filled with a lot of confusion. A lot of frustration. A lot of crying out to God and trying to make my life work, but always coming up short somehow. I longed for peace, but hardly ever felt any.

But God is good. God is faithful. “He will complete the good work he has begun in you” (Philippians 1:6), he promised, and I see more and more that that’s my reality. God has known all along what he was up to in my life. When I look back at the first 31 years of my life, I can see how he has been forming me more and more into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28 is one of the more (mis-)quoted passages of Scripture. It says: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Many people are confused about what “the good” means. Some say that you’re supposed to find something that’s (feels) good in any situation in a “there are always two sides to a coin”-logic. But that’s not what this verse is talking about. There are many things that are difficult in life. God has never promised that all things have something in them we enjoy, but Paul shows in the next verse what “the good” is: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers“. “The good” that God will bring out of every situation no matter how hard or difficult it may be is that he will conform us more and more into the likeness of his son. The good is looking and being more and more like Jesus. 

God has been changing me more and more into looking like his son throughout my life. Hard experiences and difficult struggles have given me insights I can share with people who are struggling. It doesn’t mean that I’m insanely happy about everything that has happened to me. I still struggle to understand why certain things happened, but I trust God to bring life out of even hard experiences. Everything I have learned can be used in the kingdom of God somehow. I have often been blown away these past few years about the randomness of things God can use for his glory:

  • God has used my insight into sports, particularly football (soccer) to open countless conversations with young men from all over the world that I’ve met. And often these conversations have ended up in me sharing about who Christ is.
  • God has used my passion for and knowledge about geography to open up conversations and to give me a platform to be able to relate to and care about people from the whole world.
  • God has even used my size, the way I’m built, to open up peoples’ lives. I will never forget the time where a smaller built Ukrainian DTS student came up to me during a time of prayer and said that she was so happy she could trust me. I was, according to her, the first bigger guy she had dared to trust in her life. Other times other girls have said something similar that seeing a big and strong guy cry and share his heart has helped give them faith back in men and that men can be sincere and sensitive. 

But this blog entry is titled “Peace” and to me that’s one of the biggest miracles that have happened these past couple of years here in Ukraine. I experience more and more peace. I still have questions, struggles, frustrations, my flesh, my pride, etc. that want to press me down and stress me. But it seems like more and more I experience the peace that Paul talked about: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). I have seen this in my life that I can feel and experience peace even when it seems like everything is difficult. And it has nothing to do with me trying really hard to be peaceful. It’s a gift from God. A gift of peace. And a gift that I believe he wants to give more of to me. And a gift he longs to give to his children. Jesus talked a lot about leaving his disciples with peace (John 14). God wants for us to experience peace. A peace that transcends all understanding. A peace that goes beyond and right down the middle of our circumstances. 

I thank God that he has calmed a lot of my fears. I thank God that I’m learning more about allowing Jesus Christ to live his life through me. “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). When I experience peace it’s a clear sign that I abide in Christ (John 15). When I allow him to God and myself to be a human being in need of his help, I get to experience peace. When I don’t strive and try to fix my problems and fix myself (!), I experience Jesus’ peace. 

I want to experience more of this peace. I don’t want to be worried about today, tomorrow or what will happen in 10 or 29 years. I know that Christ doesn’t want for me to worry. Worrying brings nothing good. I know that. And I thank God that he has given me more peace. I’m still me. I still have days where peace is not my default setting. Absolutely. But I can look back on the past two years and say with certainty that I experience more and more peace. 

Peace be with you!


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